Welcome to the Final of the 15th Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition in 2017

with the fantastic singers Sara Decker, Alexander Lövmark and Talie Monin.

5.00 Here we are … sitting and waiting for the doors to close and the show to start. The three finalists look fabulous and have a chat backstage. Julien Coriatt (France) piano, Gabriel Midon (France) bass drummer Fred Bintner (Paris) rehearsed with them in the morning, warm up … everybody gets excited…

The jury will judge the candidates on these criteria: Vocal and musical quality, originality of the interpretation and personality, improvisation skill, interplay with the band and stage presence.

5:10 Sara Decker

AUTUMN NOCTURNE is one of Sara’s favorite Ballads. She sings it with only bass, deepening in the loneliness of the song and it’s giving us shivers. Her voice is going from velvet timbre to really soft. FASCINATING RHYTHM starts with a slowly but swinging intro and changes into a tricky arrangement with kicks and lot of drive. A little trumpet imitation interacting with Julien on piano goes over to a real vocal solo, which takes Sara from low to high. The final theme brings back the joy of the arranger. You see how Sara enjoys the band playing her well-prepared thoughts. IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND. Julien prepares the piano with some plastic card – John Cage style, some sounds like from a cymbal (Russian cymbalon) appear, Sara sings like heavenly sounds from the universe, clouds, wind. She whispers an 8th note figure to the drummer, he picks it up. A 2bar bass figure in 5 and 6/8th gives a drive behind her singing – so 11/8th – but it does not sound complicated. Now the changed time feel again to a very slow swing, beautiful comping from Julien Coriatt show his mastery at his instrument. So beautiful. Such a great support for a singer – the band is just fantastic. Key change. Nice and unexpected effect – together with this clear and very personal voice it all makes sense. After the last theme they go back to the driven bass figure and take sounds to improvise their way out of the song. It was a beautiful start of the evening with Sara’s special voice and sound with her timing and phrasing remembering of relaxed sweetness of Sheila Jordan or Betty Carter. But she is more modern. I got to know Sara 8 years ago when she took the entrance exam at the Conservatory Maastricht – I work as a vocal teacher there. So I coached her in the process of becoming a professional singer, later she went to NY to compete her studies and finished her Masters degree again with me. Great to see and hear her development – listening carefully, taking a lot in – but making it her own. I am so proud of Sara.

5:30 Alexander Löwmark

FASCINATING RHYTHM is Alexander’s first song. Funny – also in the Semifinal Sara and Alexander chose the same song. The band starts steaming, swinging like hell. It’s a pleasure – they get a whole chorus to warm the stage up. The Alex starts interpreting the song. He is backphrasing and uses popy embellishments and also a modern vibrato. So here we hear Jazz up to date. Good impro – a whole chorus, good energy behind, theme out with much more timing and clear jazz approach – still with his popy modern voice. Short ending – and it’s over. Big applause. PEAK is his own composition, he introduces it like this: “last year I was blessed with a son and now I think of him when I sing the song.” A grown up arrangement and a beautiful composition show us his musical world. Beautifully sang and felt – the band masters this piece. He moves to a spot in front of the drum to sing some background fills while the piano solos, taking over with some rhythmical fills. Beautiful theme out. “A song that’s very dear to me, most of us probably have had a hard time knowing where your heard is … the song is may be slightly naive but its a beautiful thing. Its named: SKYLARK.”  This beautiful jazz ballad just accompanied by piano – slightly reharmonized and with a very personal interpretation. Also a trumpet solo and a great old-fashioned trumpet sound coming out of his mouth, ending in a beautiful theme out.

5:50 Talie Monin

Horace Silver wrote a tune about Pannonica de Koenigswater Rothschild: NICAS DREAM. She starts in a 6/8 feel – singing and dancing along – making us feel at ease. There is a funny change in melody and unexpected chord… she is playing with the original, adding some modern thoughts in it. She has fun, is playing with the song. Yeah! AND IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HER BETTER – YOU HAD BETTER BEHAVE is a blues and she got the full attention of the audience following her story. Wow – this feeling leaves us breathless listening to all the beautiful sounds her voice. Again – before the song ends – people are screaming and applauding. She is an incredible artist – wow. A South African Song written for Miriam Makeba – GILO GILO – the bird song brings us to a samba feel. She fills the stage with her warm presence, feels the music, the musicians, looks beautiful, sounds fantastic and the audience is just thrilled. So many facets and such a sweet woman, a loving musician.

Now – the jury is going to find out about winners and 2nd and 3rd winners and I will go on stage to sing some songs in the break. …..30 min later …. now the jury is done, and the

AUDIENCE CHOICE goes to Talie Monin

3rd price goes to Talie Monin

2nd price goes to Sara Decker

1st price goes to Alexander Lövmark

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE THREE OF YOU. Incredible singers – also the 4 singers more we heard in the semi finals – you were fantastic – that’s why you were chosen to be in Montreux: Christian Conti, Laura Totenhagen, Miriam Ast and Helena Hulsman!








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